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Wearable physiological systems and technologies for metabolic monitoring.


Wearable sensors allow continuous monitoring of metabolites for diabetes, sports medicine, exercise science, and physiology research. These sensors can continuously detect target analytes in skin interstitial fluid (ISF), tears, saliva, and sweat. In this review, we will summarize developments on wearable devices and their potential applications in research, clinical practice, and recreational and sporting activities. Sampling skin ISF can require insertion of a needle into the skin, whereas sweat, tears, and saliva can be sampled by devices worn outside the body. The most widely sampled metabolite from a wearable device is glucose in skin ISF for monitoring diabetes patients. Continuous ISF glucose monitoring allows estimation of the glucose concentration in blood without the pain, inconvenience, and blood waste of fingerstick capillary blood glucose testing. This tool is currently used by diabetes patients to provide information for dosing insulin and determining a diet and exercise plan. Similar technologies for measuring concentrations of other analytes in skin ISF could be used to monitor athletes, emergency responders, warfighters, and others in states of extreme physiological stress. Sweat is a potentially useful substrate for sampling analytes for metabolic monitoring during exercise. Lactate, sodium, potassium, and hydrogen ions can be measured in sweat. Tools for converting the concentrations of these analytes sampled from sweat, tears, and saliva into blood concentrations are being developed. As an understanding of the relationships between the concentrations of analytes in blood and easily sampled body fluid increases, then the benefits of new wearable devices for metabolic monitoring will also increase.

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